September 25, 2011 § Leave a comment
Penang, 25 September– Chief minister Lim Guan Eng and 20 or so penang DAP politicians came in yellow for the 1malaysia charity bicycle ride.
YB Teh Yee Cheu says the state government is here to show their support for fair and clean elections. They will be riding along side the Prime Minister and the rest of the participants later on the morning.
The fundraising event was initially sponsored by the state government and a local paper. This year, Prime Minster Najib Tun Razak has offer to sponsor RM 15 million for 15 Chinese Penang schools.
The event this year is now known as ‘1Malaysia Charity Ride for Education.’ According to the state government, it was only several weeks ago that the project was handed over to the federal government. Today, since 4am in the morning, the streets to Strait Quay is papered with 1Malaysia banner and hundreds to thousands of school children in white 1Malaysia tshirt gathered for the event.
CM Lim press officer Mr Wong Kim Fei says, “we definitely can wear yellow tshirt. It can also be for 1Bersih.”
He explains that the state government is in support of the 1malaysia charity ride.
The 20 yellow people group also got yelled at by police officers while waiting to ride out on their bicycles.
“We’re here because we want to show the spirit of Bersih 2.0. We hope the ban of Bersih as an organization will be lifted.” say Environmental officer Thing Siew Shuen wearing a 709 tshirt.
The 1Malaysia Charity Ride for Education 2011 also distributed t-shirts in black, white, green, red and yellow to everyone. Organizers estimate between 15000 to 20000 people will participate in the event.
May 6, 2011 § 2 Comments
From the bustling township of Subang, Faris Ghani, Nizhan Faraz and Low Weiyan share their story of student activism.
Student activism when it involves politics, has not, of late, been associated with much positive vibes.
From smashing doors, missing candidate, fistfights and protests, Universiti Malaya (UM) was swarmed by drama between the pro-establishment team and the anti-establishment team before their campus election. The Star ran a piece saying the UM election showed the ugly side of student activism.
All of these would have deterred many students from activism where it touches on politics but not for the three students in Subang.
Barisan National’s Subang representative, Datuk Lee Hwa Beng says, “my personal view is they cannot take part actively in any protest but most of you are eighteen above already… It is very wrong to tell you no [to activism] because it is your fundamental right.”
Faris Ghani speaking on racism in Malaysia
Faris Ghani is a student in Taylor’s University American Degree Program. The nineteen year old, along with a few friends and lecturers, started a campaign in March against racism called Voices of Diversity, Desensitizing Race.
The two month long campaign consist of flash mob, racial comedy and a forum to help people understand more of the sociological, biological and political construction of race in the nation.
When asked why he chose to be an activist, Ghani says, “education makes me mad [especially] the quota system like Malays having more rights to scholarships. This is what’s upset me the most among other things.”
Ghani, Malay by birth, also calls Bumiputras rights ‘ridiculous.’ He says, “affirmative action is absurd, unfair and really stupid. The government should be helping people based on merit and needs.”
Is he not afraid of the drawbacks of student activism, he says, “I rather be arrested, thrown in jail than not being able to fight for the rights of those who aren’t able to fight for their rights. It is that hope for a better future, the hope for equal rights and to be part of the making of that future that make me never give up.”
Nizhan Faraz seeking educational reform
Nizhan Faraz, from Taylor’s University, is the spokesperson for the newly formed Dialogue Project. The project is a brainchild of his friend Ian Chew, also from Taylor’s University.
Dialogue Project is a student organization that want to improve Malaysia’s education system. The group, started in March, is planning to lift the group into a non-governmental organization by July which would be easier for them to keep the group alive as most of them will be spending the next two years aboard in the States or Canada.
“Najib [Prime Minister] needs the driving force to initiate the change. We do not intend to take the reformation of the education system in a radical manner, we believe changes by negotiation and conversation,” the charismatic Faraz says very directly what he has in mind.
The biggest motivation behind the project for Faraz is his desire to bring societal change. Although the team is at its infancy, Faraz said they have organized a talk by the Bar Council for their fellow program-mates called My Constitution Workshop.
Their final goal is to meet up with politicians to ‘answer their questions’ on education system and policies.
Ask if fear of the authorities ever crossed his mind, he said, “should not be fearful of the consequences that are about to come but whether the message will reach the audience or not.”
Low Weiyan defending freedom of expression
Monash University’s Low Weiyan has always been passionate about filming documentaries.
But what spike him to political activism was his lecturer’s arrest in 2009. When his lecturer Wong Chin Huat, also a Bersih campaigner was arrested, Low says that’s when he felt the injustice of the system.
“Basically what I do is I document events, rally, forum as well as attend them. The biggest rally I documented was the ISA protest. My mom just came back from China that day I told her I was running from the police,” says Low.
So what kept him going? He describes the importance of the freedom of speech as his reason to be an activist.
“Interlok becomes big because we are not allowed to talk about it. There is no closure to the issue. It keeps building and form negative public sentiment… if this carries on, it is a matter of time before it burst.”
These young people referred to serious political dilemma in the country from racism, educational reform to freedom of expression as their motivation to become student activists.
Whether their plans succeed or fail, these three young minds seem unfazed and unafraid to take the road less taken by so many of their fellow students.
The forum on race, organized by Voices of Diversity, Desensitizing Race:
Students studying in Subang universities opinions on student activism (political):
March 25, 2011 § Leave a comment
Social worker urged locals to understand refugees plight while Klang MP pushes for their rights
SUBANG JAYA, March 22 – Locals need to understand why refugees are here, says David Spykerman, a social worker and church activist.
“These people are running from their own country, not really looking for greener pastures but they are being prosecuted. They have to run away to make a living here,” he said.
Malaysia Immigration Law does not recognize the status of refugees. They are considered as illegal immigrants under Immigration Act 1959/63.
Spykerman who has been helping refugees in Subang since 1999 said there are hundreds of refugees residing in the low-cost flats in the area. His church provides them with provisions from time to time.
One refugee only identified as Kong said he left Myanmar because there was no food but only suffering.
“I can never go home [Myanmar] because they will catch me… It is very difficult to survive here [Malaysia]. I earn RM 700 a month and it’s just nice for rental and food,” said Kong who has two small children. He shares a flat with another Burmese refugee family of eight.
Suhainah [not her real name], a Myanmarese Muslim refugee said her family fled the country because they wanted to arrest her father.
The 14 year old said when asked about her schooling after she left Myanmar, “I can only go to the religious school here. I am not allowed to take their exams because I do not have identification card.”
There is only one education center for the refugees children in Subang. The center teaches basic math and english.
Malaysia’s security dilemma vs. human rights
Meanwhile, Charles Santiago (Member of Parliament) said the government look at the issue of refugee from a security point of view.
“When you organize a particular community from a law and security point of view, then you are not interested about their livelihood… more concern is to make sure they don’t get into crime, they don’t become a threat to the nation,” he said.
The Klang MP launched a petition campaign to get Malaysia government to recognize refugees rights in 2009.
“They [government] have to move away from law and security to a more humane approach towards the refugees,” Santiago said.
“Rectify the convention on refugees, [give them rights to] jobs and education” he said when asked if he would bring this up again in Parliament.
There are 92 900 refugees in Malaysia registered with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) as of January 2011.
*pictures taken from No Refugee: Burmese Refugees Photo Exhibition 2009
A short documentary on Living as Refugees in Subang
October 22, 2010 § Leave a comment
There are two ways to look at this.
Good news because the owners of the page will be able to resume walling more Malaysians into supporting them.
On the other side of the coin, it seems like Malaysian Insider has the last words. Is it the owners’ fault as they put it?
First, the anti-tower page (claimed by the owners) is not an official fan-page according to the owners. They are a community page.
Community page are built around topic, causes or experiences- facebook help center.
The terms and conditions pointed out in Malaysian Insider do not apply to community pages.
Ironically, the anti-tower page is unblocked today with an official title that they are NOW an official community page. Isn’t that official since the start if the owners claim is true?
If that’s the case, does it make you wonder if there is something going on behind close doors here?
Did Facebook make a mistake blocking the anti-tower page or is there something more to it?
Some thoughts to ponder there: who are sitting behind the decision chairs of the internet giant, Facebook.
Since the topic is so technical, I thought I’ll provide some ground work:
1. Facebook pages that got blocked- on the discussion threads- are fan pages which mean official pages.
2. There are many fan pages that were blocked got changed into community
pages and unblocked.
2. Anti tower page when started was set as community page (claimed by the owners) but it got blocked.
3. So far there are no reports of facebook community pages blocked. The other cases were official pages that got blocked. When i read the terms for community page there is nothing indicating 10 000 users need verification.
4. Now the anti-tower page is unblocked but they apparently recategorized us a community page.
October 21, 2010 § 1 Comment
A day ago I wrote an article in Malaysiakini stating that Facebook has blocked the owners of the 1M Malaysian reject 100-storey Mega Tower page from posting anything on the wall.
Facebook neither specifies the details of violation nor provides a channel of appeal (from Malaysiakini).
The owners of the page call this a cyber-tyranny, saying it is a new form of censorship.
Today, Malaysian Insider responded by publishing an article saying that the Facebook blocked is the owners’ fault.
The owners claim to be victimised, but a quick look at the Terms & Conditions page for Facebook Fan Page reveals that “Pages are special profiles that may only be used to promote a business or other commercial, political, or charitable organization or endeavor”.
Put simply, a fan page may only represent a specific brand or organisation, none of which is represented by the “1M Malaysians Reject 100-storey Mega Tower” page.
The writer points out that there is also “Warning” page that say a creator can be blocked if they did send any abusive messages or spam in any manner (from Malaysian Insider).
When I asked the owners of anti-tower page, they confidently say they did not spam in any form and abusive posts are deleted by the owner.
If you look at the anti-tower page, there is no spam comment from the owners. Vulgarity is evident but minimal, one must note it is nearly impossible for a few people to screen a page for vulgarity when the fans post come every few seconds.
Also, to pick another bone with Malaysian Insider’s article, they have mistaken the anti-tower page for an official facebook page. According to the owners, they claim they made it a community page from the beginning.
When you create a page with Facebook, you have a choice of community page and official fan page. The owners of the anti-mega tower page say they used community page.
According to the terms in the community page, there is no indication you have to be a specific brand or organization.
Community page are built around topic causes or experiences- facebook terms page.
And looking at the discussion threads in Facebook, there haven’t been any discussion of community page getting blocked. Of course, how many go unchallenged or unreported, is left unknown.
A further look at Facebook Help Center discussion thread, the issue of owners being blocked is not only a Malaysian issue but an international one.
From the thread, there are many users that pages have been blocked for the same reason as the owners of anti-tower page. Although not all said so, most of the owners of the pages blocked described their page as fan page.
Fan pages are official pages which are subjected to being an official representative of brands or organizations.
A user say she found it is becoming harder to get a respond from Facebook.
Also, there is even a petition group set up for these owners.
“This Petition is made to The Facebook Management. So many fan pages have been blocked, and we don’t have any reference on that issue. What’s the procedure to unblock it? Why can’t we get any information on why our page got blocked?” said in the petition page description.
Bill Warren, from Custom Fan Page Center, say Facebook fanpage over 10,000 users will be reviewed by Facebook.
“Those, who in FB’s sole determination fail this test are automatically having their publishing rights revoked. It is an action for which there is no direct appeal,” says Warren.
He also say it is extremely rare that Facebook will restore the publishing rights for the owners once blocked.
When asked, the owners of 1M Malaysians reject 100-storey mega tower said that Facebook never mentioned that they might be blocked once they reached 10,000 fans. To date, the godspeed anti-tower page has more than 70,000 fans.
The owners also say they do not see that clause in the Terms and Conditions page.
When they found that their rights were blocked, they did not receive any e-mail or message to verify their page or reasons why they were blocked.
“If this is why the fan page was blocked, the solution to the block would be as simple as verifying themselves as legitimate owner of the page to Facebook, thus making it “official””- Malaysian Insider.
Notably, the owners of “Malaysian for Beng Hock‘ page which was blocked in September 2010, say Facebook did not respond when they e-mailed them. In this case, the fanpage lost its appeal since then.
So, is Facebook a tyranny or the owners did not read the fine print properly? One must note, that in the discussion thread, the pages blocked are fan pages but the anti-mega tower page is a community page. Community pages are not subjected to such scrutiny. If the anti-mega tower page owners’ claim they are a community page is true, then why are they blocked? Did someone report the anti-tower group?
It seems that the owners don’t think the block is justified and Facebook is too quiet to give us an explanation.
One thing is for sure, there are other pages, many in fact, that are blocked by Facebook. No reason is given and Facebook barely respond to the owners’ appeal.
It does sound very fishy to me. Does Facebook simply has too much on their hands to respond or there is something going on behind the so-called free cyberspace still remain unanswered. As far as it goes, Facebook never specify the reasons why these fanpages owners are blocked beside saying they violate the terms and conditions of the page.
Of course, I do not have answers here, but it doesn’t kill for someone to start asking Facebook or other cyberspace sites these questions. I leave that to the enthusiastic ones.
October 19, 2010 § 2 Comments
I know the big banner on the top of my blog says this is a blog about racism and race in Malaysia.
Why am I talking about a 100-storey high tower, you may wonder? The answer is simple. It affects every single one of us- whatever race cards you prefer, you’re affected. In that sense, welcome to 1Malaysia.
Some background of the story
During the Budget 2011 Plan, our Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak proposed to build a 100 storey mega tower along with other mega constructions.
The cost for the mega tower is RM 5 billion and but on Tuesday, Najib has said the tower will be ready in 2020.
The building, named “Warisan Merdeka” or “Heritage of Independence”, would be the tallest in Malaysia, dwarfing the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, which were the world’s tallest buildings at 88 storeys when completed in 1998.
Najib has said such projects exemplify the spirit of “Malaysia Boleh” or “Malaysia Can”, a national campaign conceived by former premier Mahathir Mohamad, an advocate of mega projects (taken from Agence France-Presse).
Former prime minister, Tun Mahathir supports the idea. During Mahathir times, he had also indulge in a series of mega projects including the Petronas Twin Towers, KL Tower and Putrajaya.
Opposition leaders have lambasted the project as more detrimental to Malaysia rather than beneficial. Also, a Facebook group (to date has 17 000 supporters and still growing) was set up 4 days ago against Najib’s mega tower.
Mega-ego or mega-economic growth?
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak today defended the proposal to build a 100-storey tower, costing RM5 billion, saying it was not a waste but an opportunity to generate the economy and create an icon for a developed and modern Malaysia.
The prime minister said the construction of the tower would benefit many sectors.
“There are many contract works which we can give out to spur economic activities. The area can also become a centre of attraction and a business centre. This is not a waste but something that will bring benefit,” he said- (taken from Malaysian Digest.)
We might have expected the Prime Minister to say foreign investments, international support or even, some-money-will-be-given-to-the-poor sort of justification. But no, he said contracts?
How does CONTRACTS help our economy? As you know, if the contracts are private contracts the chances are only the rich privatized companies will be benefiting from Najib’s 100-storey block of solid metal.
As far as I know, when a private company make money, do they give one sen to the poor? Have you seen Sime Darby or Dell decide to pour their gold into rural areas like Jinjang?
Wait, doesn’t giving contract to private companies sound very much like meritocracy? I thought we’re against that concept.
He said Pemodalan National Bhd was the one who proposed the project.
“I did not ask PNB to undertake the project. It is something which the PNB management wants to see implemented,” he told reporters after giving a closed-door briefing to Umno leaders in conjunction with the 2010 Umno General Assembly which started today (taken from Malaysian Digest).
PNB is the biggest fund management company in the our country. They are also a Bumiputras centered company. If Bumiputras that are poor benefits from this, then it is indeed a feasible plan. But how much do all the other poors have to sacrificed for this project, I do not know nor I have seen any media willing to discuss this issue.
On another note, maybe our Prime Minister intention is to spur economy growth through contracts and if these companies make money then the economic pie in our country seems bigger for everyone right?
But again, I emphasize, it is unlikely one private entity or one party who isn’t bound to the government will share their economic pie with others.
Perhaps, he is referring to the job opportunities that come with the contracts. If the building is going to be ready in 2015, isn’t this just a short term job opportunities?
Of course there are other factors in spending RM 5 billion for a tower that can lead to benefits for a lot of people. Maybe our Prime Minister needs to specifically tell us what it is that can benefit us.
Economic activities, business attractions
He says that the tower can spur economic activities and it will become a center for business.
What he failed to say is who is going to invest in the empty slots within the tower?
How feasible is the tower as a commercial ground when there are so many empty officers and spaces for business left vacant in other pretty tall buildings in Kuala Lumpur?
Yes, we do need commercial growth, we do need a better and higher income economy.
But is a RM 5 billion tower necessary to guaranty that? What if the tower fails to thrive like the other mega projects during Mahathir eras? Haven’t we all learnt something from the past?
Mahathir, whose own schemes included the Proton national car and the multi-billion-dollar administrative capital Putrajaya — both of which have failed to thrive — has warmly endorsed the new skyscraper (taken from AFP).
Najib stoutly defended the project, and said the Petronas Towers — now a much-loved national symbol — had originally attracted similar criticism.
“We want a building that will be a symbol of the country that is not only modern but progressive and it will have a multiplier effect on the economy,” he told a press conference (taken from AFP).
Our Prime Minister referred to the Petronas Towers signaling that his new 12 storey taller tower is going to boost economy and probably become Malaysia’s next beacon of pride.
Beacon of pride or not, personally I think it depends on our Tourism Malaysia.
Whether it will multiply our economy, as I’ve mentioned earlier, our Prime Minister did not suggest any solid plans for what’s going to be inside the tower.
Is there any guaranty it won’t be a white elephant?
It is true, RM 5 billion is a lot of money and there’s no way you can take down the tower once it is built.
All Najib seems to say is, it will boost economy and contract opportunities. As pointed out earlier, contract works is not only a short term economic boost, it barely reaches most of the poor Malaysians. Also, without any promises of investments or promising buyers, how can anyone guaranty that the tower will thrive economically?
What I like to point out is, Najib’s explanation in the most blatant terms, don’t convince me to support his mega ambition.
Of course if he does have a draft all set and investors lining up at his door to invest in his mega giant, then that’s another story altogether. And if that is true, then the tower wouldn’t be waste of money. But it seems right now, it is all promises without any realistic claims.
All in all, these are my two cent for Najib’s mega tower. If you fail to agree with my pragmatism, then feel free to reason otherwise.
If the Prime Minister can tell us in specification and with solid promises, how this tower is not going to end up a white elephant, then this tower might not be such a bad idea. But till now, all the talks of economy boost and contract works don’t seem very relevant to the normal people, does it?
October 18, 2010 § Leave a comment
You don’t get a budget right before the dawn of elections and take it as face value, some people say.
But do you then, listen to the oppositions accusations of the budget as an election budget?
Pakatan Rakyat (made up of three very different ideologies from Islamists, pro-Chinese to de facto leader) and Barisan National (made up of, oh well, only way to put it is, 53 years of leadership and supremacy) have much to say about the Budget 2011 plan.
Neither agree with one another on a single term which just adds on the confusion to the already confused Malaysians.
The question I post is with our Prime Minister’s new budget plan and oppositions slamming it down to ground zero, it is a bit hard to judge who is for the Rakyat, isn’t it?
Three days ago Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak announced his plans to build a 100-storey tower, Warisan Merdeka.
“We take pride in our national icon, the Petronas Twin Towers. It signifies the spririt of Malaysia Boleh. Another landmark to be developed by PNB is Warisan Merdeka, expected to be ready by 2020,” he said when tabling Budget 2011 in Parliament today.
Tourism Minister Ng Yen Yen has supported the plan saying we are going to do it because we can. Yes, that’s definitely Malaysia Boleh spirit.
One might want to ask is Ng’s justification even valid? Do we do things just because we are capable of? Imagine what will happen to the country if ever minister decides to make plans just because they are at liberty to throw tax payers money at all directions?
Oppositions from all sides lambasted the PM’s 100-storey masterplan. Seputeh MP Teresa Kok even called it as “the PM’s ego trip at the expense of Kuala Lumpur’s long term viability and is calling for the plan to be scrapped.”
Kok cited that the building of the tower will kick the already disastrous traffic jam in Kuala Lumpur a few notches higher. She also argued that the RM 5 billion tax payers money can be used for other better services such as public transportation and low-cost houses.
Kok at least has something constructive to say, but DAP leader, Lim Kit Siang who has always been against every plan BN comes up with call Najib mega-tower, Najib’s way of trying to outdo Mahathir in leaving a legacy.
Mahathir did have his Petronas Twin Tower and KL Tower. Is Najib trying to outdo Mahathir as Lim Kit Siang proposed, by building a 12-storey higher tower than Mahathir?
Whether our PM really have a plan or the oppositions are barking truth this time, no one can say for sure. One way to know if the mega tower is a good plan for the Rakyat or not is to ask our PM- what exactly is this mega tower for?
A few questions to ponder or ask our PM:-
What is the purpose of the tower? For commercial interest? For foreign investors?
What sort of businesses that will be operating in the Mega Tower?
How feasible are these businesses to guaranty back a good return for the Rakyat?
Does this tower guaranty foreign investments?
What about the traffic congestion in the area? Is anything going to be done about it?
How does this mega-tower benefits the Rakyat? I am talking about the people and not your economic growth. You may argue that economic growth means everyone benefits. But 200 years of globalization have proved rich gets richer and poor gets poorer. So yes, please tell us how does the Rakyat benefits from this mega-tower.
Bottom line is, the leaders need to explain precisely why tax payers should fork out RM 5 billion to build a mega tower? We need more than the excuse of foreign investments. What we like to know is what sort of promises are you willing to make, PM to your country people if we build this mega-tower?
Do we get better incomes and job opportunities if we build this tower? How much are you willing to guaranty us, PM Najib?
Civil servants and poverty plans- where?
Yesterday, PM Najib said the 2011 Budget cover the interests of all the people’s well-being.
He talked about the My Home Scheme which allow newly-employed civil servants, earning less than RM 3000, to own a house.
In his 20011 Budget Plan, the PM emphasized that minimum wage still remain impending. The only group that gets a minimum wage in the Budget Plan is the security guards. Also, female civil servants will have longer maternity leaves now.
There are perks in the plans as shown above. However, the benefits remain as marginal as the poor community in Malaysia. I am not an economic expert but does this sound ironic to you?
We can afford to give maternity leaves for an extra month but we can’t afford to give one month bonus to civil servants? Someone please do the math here.
One of the critic of Najib’s Budget 2011 Plan is Dr Lim Teck Ghee who said that there is little done about low cost housings, public transportations, health care and food for the poor.
He said, “the majority of Malaysians will, in fact, not only feel but will indeed be poorer rather than richer in 2011 given the relentless rise in cost of living that is not reflected in the inflation data.”
As you can see in the Budget 2011 Plan, Najib intend to spend RM 3 billion on eco-nature resort and RM 50 million on building shaded sidewalks in Bukit Bintang vicinity.
Compare this to the lack of poverty eradication projects in the plan and you can tell the scale balance doesn’t seem so balance anymore.
To do justice to Najib’s masterplan is to say that the focus of the plan lays heavily on mega infrastructures, big-time investments and tourism which may transform Malaysian into a truly world class 21st century nation as Najib confidently said during Merdeka. But as I pointed out earlier, a world class 21st century nation guaranty wealth. Does it guaranty everyone gets the wealth to the last garbage collector of this country?
So, how do all these investments in the air (since there haven’t been an guarantied foreign investments yet) save us from poverty and make us all a little more comfortable? I leave that question for you to ask your government.